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July 20, 2017

St. Louis health care IT firm plans Portland office

Photo / Lori Valigra
Photo / Lori Valigra
Darryl Palmer, chief information officer of Janus Choice, a St. Louis-based health care information technology company, plans to open an office in Portland soon.

VIEW: Interview with Darryl Palmer

Janus Choice, a St. Louis-based health care information technology company that helps match patients with post-hospitalization, skilled-care facilities, plans to open an office at Portland's Cloudport coworking space this month.

Chief Technology Officer Darryl Palmer, one of seven entrepreneurs in the inaugural Venture Hall accelerator program this summer, told Mainebiz he is in the process of hiring one person in Portland and will have two to three workers by the end of the year. The St. Louis headquarters has four full-time and six part-time workers now, and he plans to hire two more full-timers there in August.

"Doctors are part of the community here," Palmer said of Portland. He's been working closely with Unum US, a Portland insurer, as well as MaineHealth to see how the health care system runs in Maine.

"I came to Venture Hall and Cloudport to learn about the health care ecosystem here in Maine and about the problems it faces," he added. "I'm also researching how to change the behavior and usage of health care systems for refugees."

He said such newcomers may be unfamiliar with the U.S. health care system and skilled-care and post-acute care facilities.

Responding to a need

Palmer and his wife, Alexandra "Sasha" Goodwin, who is CEO and president, started the company in 2014 after they saw a need to help patients find the right aftercare. Some stroke patients, for example, may need help with eye-hand coordination to use utensils, while someone with a hip replacement may need to learn how to get in and out of the bathtub. Some post-care may be done at home with a visiting nurse or caregiver coming several times a week.

"We saw the process of health care with family and friends," Palmer said, holding up multiple sheets of paper given to a friend's mother with a list of 78 post-care facilities. "There are 21 skilled nursing facilities within 25 miles of Portland."

He said hospital staff aren't allowed by law to recommend a particular facility, because the typical two- or four-week stay can mean $15,000 in revenue to the facility. There also are privacy issues that must be considered.

His company offers a multilingual portable computer (English, Spanish and Polish) with a list of facilities. Hospitals can let patients use the device and software to find the best after-care location. It includes options to input locations close to relatives and features they'd like at the facility such as a bistro, hair salon or spiritual services.

"It's like an eHarmony for post-acute care," Palmer said. The Janus Choice software uses artificial intelligence and database technology to make its matches. One of the company's top competitors is Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: MDRX) of Chicago.

Janus Choice's computer and software services are sold on a subscription and lease model.

Aging population increases demand

The company's product is in 12 hospital systems now, and that will increase to more than 50 in a few months, Palmer said.

Its revenue is about $100,000 a year, Palmer said, adding he expects to turn a profit next year, and then seek an unspecified amount of Series A financing at the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019. It has $600,000 in financing to date, including $100,000 from Prosper Women Entrepreneurs Capital in St. Louis.

Palmer added that many of the people needing short-term, post-hospital care are over 55 years old, though some younger people who have severe strokes or heart attacks also may need the care. Depending on the person's age, either his or her private insurance, Medicare or Medigap plans pay for the care.

An American Hospital Association study showed that the number of patients using post-acute care has been on the rise from 2008 to 2013. Palmer added that there are there are over 5,000 hospitals and close to 90,000 post-acute care providers in the country. Up to 32 million patients each year in the United States require placement and could use Janus Choice's product, he said.

"Our U.S. total addressable market just for our minimum value product is $1.3 billion," he said. That is expected to double to $2.7 billion by 2020, he added, citing AARP and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services statistics.

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